One of the most challenging questions each person has to answer for themselves is how charitable giving fits into their money journey and their life. So many factors can influence how we feel about giving.
One of the most significant reservations people have is that they might not feel financially ready to give. Regardless of what your wallet and your bank account look like, though, there are many ways you can fit personal giving into your plans.
Each year, Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the first Tuesday in December, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It kicks off the charitable giving season when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year donating. This article is the first of four (here's the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th) we published on the Tuesdays leading up to Tuesday, December 3rd, to share a variety of ways you can give this year.
Just like you might donate a winter coat you’ve outgrown or no longer need, there are plenty of ways to give parts of yourself that you don’t need. It sounds like something from a horror flick, but it’s really not. In fact, personal giving is easier than you imagine, won’t take a bite out of your budget, and makes a powerful impact on your community.
Here's a look at how to start making personal giving a priority.
How to Donate Hair
Change your hairstyle and change someone’s life. On average, people grow six inches of hair a year. Whether you’re going under the scissors or razor, a single haircut or shave can generate resources and funds necessary to help others in need.
Cutting Hair to Make Wigs
One option for personal giving is to donate hair. If you’re ready to undergo a drastic change and have a lot of hair to begin with, you may be able to help someone in need with a few snips. Donated human hair is used to create affordable or even free wigs for people afflicted with cancer.
To determine if this is the right option for you, you’ll need to know where to donate, what can be given, and how to make your donation. Read on to find out more about donating hair for wigs.
Organizations Accepting Hair Donations
Some organizations that may need your help include:
You might also explore other options in your area by doing a Google search for hair donations, followed by the name of your state. As you explore the options, read about the history of the organization and also how the wigs are distributed. Those factors can help you decide which organization to support as well.
Requirements for Hair Donations
It is important to keep specific considerations in mind when deciding if hair donation is right for you.
Questions to ask yourself include:
- How long is my hair?
- Is my hair graying?
- Is my hair dyed, permed, or processed in any other way?
Depending on the length and state of your hair, you may or may not be eligible to donate hair. Make sure that you carefully review the policies of the specific organization you selected to see that you meet all of the requirements.
Hair Donation Procedures
Now that you’re ready to lop off your locks, there are a few more considerations to make. Since you’re likely cutting off 8-12 inches of hair, it’s probably best to involve a hairstylist. Not only will they know how to create a new (and much shorter!) hairstyle that you love, they’re also probably familiar with the hair donation process.
Here are some things that will make the haircut go smoother:
- Book an appointment. That way, your stylist has advance notice.
- Come in with a new hairstyle in mind, even if it’s just a few photos saved on your phone.
- Wash and dry your hair before the cut, but don’t add any product.
- Bring hair ties and a resealable plastic bag to your appointment.
You also want to review the specific guidelines set out by the organization you are supporting. It is probably smart to bookmark them on your phone or print out a copy for your stylist.
Following these steps carefully ensures that your hair makes the impact you intend. It takes time to grow out your hair and a bit of effort to research, but donating hair is a relatively simple way for you to make a significant impact on someone’s life. A handful of scissor snips gives someone else confidence and courage when they need it most.
Shave for St. Baldrick’s
If you don’t have the length to donate hair for a wig, you can still make a difference with a new hairdo. Foundations like St. Baldrick’s ask volunteers to shave their heads for a good cause.
St. Baldrick’s is a not-for-profit organization that raises money and awareness for childhood cancer. K-12 schools, colleges and universities, corporations, and communities all have even, usually on or around St. Patrick’s Day. If there isn’t one happening in your local area, you can also start an event.
After you’ve found an event to join (or created one!), you set up a donation page and ask friends and family to support your cause. Then, you show up the day of the event, don a cape, and become a superhero. You also leave with less hair.
Maybe you’re not ready for a buzz cut just yet. St. Baldrick’s also needs people to act as barbers and volunteers, too.
How to Donate Blood & More
When it comes to personal giving, you can donate more than just hair. The time and level of commitment vary, but all of these donation options come with no financial cost to you. In fact, several options come with prizes, points, and other types of payment.
Donating blood seems like such a simple act, yet it is incredibly powerful. Neighborhoods, religious organizations, schools, and community centers near you likely host blood drives from time to time. In addition to participating in those mobile blood drives, there are also centers you can donate blood at.
Generally, the blood draw takes less than ten minutes. In addition to feeling really good about your ability to help someone in need, some blood drives also offer snacks, prizes, and even raffles to make it a true community event.
Some people may wish to be whole-blood donors regularly, while others are moved to donate after specific instances, such as natural disasters, when there is an even greater need for blood.
To get started, you can do a simple search on the American Red Cross site to locate a blood drive near you.
Similar to donating blood, donating plasma can be a life-saving act. People suffering from traumatic injury, individuals dealing with cancer, and a whole host of other medical scenarios may require plasma treatments.
Unlike donating blood, donating plasma does require more of a time commitment. Most donations take 1-2 hours, with first-time donations taking longer due to paperwork. The process is similar to a blood draw, but two needles are used. A machine separates your plasma from the rest of your blood. And then the blood is pumped back into your body.
As a healthy adult, you should recover quickly from a plasma donation. However, it is crucial to note that it's not recommended to donate plasma more than once every 28 days.
If a plasma donation is something that interests you, consider donating plasma along with blood through the American Red Cross. You can also check the AABB website. There are plasma donation centers, such as Grifols, that offer payment or rewards for your donations, as well.
Platelets are tiny. They’re so tiny most people don’t even think about them when it comes to donating blood. Donating platelets is crucial, though. The American Red Cross estimates that every 15 seconds, someone requires platelets. They can help everyone from injured individuals to those suffering from chronic illness.
Because donating platelets is different than a whole-blood donation, you need an appointment to make this kind of donation. You should be prepared to have your appointment last from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Use the American Red Cross search tool to find a center near you.
Becoming an Organ Donor
What greater gift is there than giving someone the gift of life? That’s precisely what signing up to become an organ donor means.
Typically, organ donation occurs after the death of the donor. However, there are approximately 6,000 living donations performed each year, in which donors undergo a medical procedure to give a kidney, a liver lobe, a lung, or another organ or tissue to someone in need.
As of July 2019, there were 113,000 people, many of whom are children, on the national transplant list. The number of individuals on the list continues to outpace the number of people who sign up as donors.
Visit organdonor.gov to learn more and to find out the next steps for organ donation that are specific to your state.
Donating Your Body
Another option you have is to donate your body to science. If you’ve watched any forensics shows on TV, there’s a chance you may have heard about the practice. Essentially, a living person agrees to donate their body upon their death to a nonprofit. These accredited institutions are often university medical programs, and the donation serves to further the practice of medicine.
While so many advancements have occurred in the field of medicine, nothing replicates the actual human body. By donating your body to science, you help medical students hone their practice and propel medical research forward.
Another benefit of giving your body to science is the fact that burial and cremation expenses are no longer an issue. With average funeral expenses hovering just shy of $9,000, donating your body to science is an act of savings, as much as it is one of extreme generosity.
If you are interested in becoming a whole-body donor, you begin the process by interviewing with an organization like Medcure or Science Care and then submitting consent forms. There are no upper age limits to this donation.
Final Thoughts on Giving on a Personal Level
Personal giving may not come with much financial cost, but it is invaluable. From donating hair to helping children with cancer to donating organs to save someone on the transplant list, these selfless acts will have a lasting impact in your community and beyond.
As with any type of charitable giving, it's essential to give thought to your actions and research the organizations you intend to support. In addition to using the resources here, you can also reach out to members of your local community to hear personal stories and uncover more ways to give on a personal level.
Article written by Penny